Guest Blog

Hope, change & women

Share this:
Friday, 11 September, 2009

Rana Zincir Celal coordinates the Cyprus Chapter of the Greek-Turkish Forum. Following a meeting between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot women and Elders' Lakhdar Brahimi and Gro Brundtland, she writes about the need for women to be more involved in the peace process in Cyprus

It’s often easy to get discouraged about the prospects for a settlement in Cyprus. Messages and reminders of conflict and division permeate our landscape and our language, discouraging and even drowning out voices that offer a more supportive and inspiring vision for the future.

That’s why in today’s meeting between Turkish and Greek Cypriot women and Elders Gro Brundtland and Lakhdar Brahimi, one of the focal points of our discussions was on the special role that we as women can and must play in supporting the peace process.

I was honored to be with such an amazing group of women, and to reflect on our shared concerns about the exclusion of women from public life. Some friends passed on statistics about the inequalities that exist in political structures and in the labor force. It was also clear that full gender equality will not happen on its own, even when the proper legislation has passed, but is something that women have to struggle for and act on systematically. I understood from this meeting that there are strong Greek Cypriot women who also care about this, and with whom we can work together.

When it comes to the peace process, not only do we have an opportunity to support it but we also have a responsibility to make sure that gender issues are incorporated into the official discussions. This responsibility extends to the two Leaders and to the UN who must enforce Security Council Resolution 1325. During the meeting several people put forward an idea to have a team of gender experts appointed by the UN and the Leaders to work with them on this. Only when women’s voices are more systematically listened to in the peace process can we be more assured that a future united Cyprus will prioritize full gender equality.

Being able to come together like this really helps in presenting a different perspective on the possibilities for the future. The road will be a bumpy one, since there are many differing points of view about a political settlement, and we can never know for sure what will happen in the next few months, but coming together, talking, and taking constructive action is the only way to break through the layers of cynicism and mistrust that have been built up over time. I hope this was only the first of many meetings.

Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation.

I would like to find:

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.